Saturday, December 26, 2009

Anatomy of a Military Pension File, Part 6

Previously, I reported on the acquisition of my great-great-great grandfather's military pension file. The documents contained within pant a picture of a man and his family about which I knew very little. I've decided to share this 103-page treasure chest of information with you a few pages at a time.

Page 15: Examination Report

Page 16: Cover of Examination Report titled "Examination by Civil Surgeon"

Page 15 of the file appears to be a report of a medical examination for Max Baerecke. It says that he "was late a Private in Company 15th Reg't U.S. Vols." This means that this document pertains to Max's application for a Mexican War pension.

At the time of the examination (the doctor signed the document 9 March 1888), Max was afflicted as follows:

His eyesight is impaired. (myopia) V. - 15/200. Has staphyl__ p_____ of both eyes (tear in document and condition of the copy make the medical terms difficult to read).

Hearing is impaired by the presence of hardened ears' wax in both ears, especially in the left. The left ear passage, after the removal of the wax, exhibits an inflamed ___ with a chronically inflamed membrane of the tympanum, thickened + not any more transparent.

Suffers from Pharyngeal + Laryngeal ___ of long ___.

The report concludes with the statement that Max Baerecke "is incapacitated for the performance of manual labor by reason of aforesaid disabilities in about the following degree: 3/4 according to the usual rating of Pension __?___ ." I can't read the last word, but the diagnosis is understood.

The document is signed by the doctor (signature looks like it might say "E. Kramer"), and dated 9 March 1888. There is also an official notary public signature.

What did I learn from this document? Well, it describes the aged condition of my third-great grandfather. He apparently has a problem with his eyes, which is mentioned several times throughout the pension file. The ear wax, and subsequent remedy by the pension doctor, suggests that Max did not have regular access to medical attention. I suspect the family was quite poor.

Page 16 of the pension file is the cover page of this document. It confirms that the purpose of the examination is for a Mexican War pension.

Coming up, more details on the medical history of Max Baerecke. Stay tuned...

On to part 7.


  1. Thank you for showing us the nitty-gritty.

  2. I agree with Amanda about the s. posticum.

    The pharyngeal and laryngeal symptom you couldn't read is catarrh, an old term for swelling and congestion of nasal and throat passages, with hypersecretion of mucus (see Scroll down until you find the word "catarrh" where there is a general definition, and then mention of specific types.

    Interesting document. I learned a lot about my great-great grandfathers Charles Reed and Matthew Hale Packard from their Civil War pension files. Fascinating stuff.

  3. If you need help reading this, I used to be a pathology secretary.